Online master's degrees in counseling psychology are intended for various outcomes. Some programs have a curriculum designed to prepare students to meet licensing requirements as a counselor. Other online programs may be non-clinical in nature and prepare students for non-practicing careers, teaching or further study at the doctoral level. Programs may also require in-person practicums and/or internships.
Applicants to an online counseling psychology master's program must have a bachelor's degree to be eligible for admission, and schools may require that students have undergraduate credits in psychology. Once admitted to the program, distance learners may be able to earn their master's degree fully online in two to three years.
Online programs that help students prepare for careers as licensed practicing counselors may offer all courses through distance learning, but internships or practicums are a standard requirement. Offered to give students supervised field experience, these can usually be arranged in the student's local area. Some programs may include short on-site residencies on campus as well.
A common feature in these online programs is an assurance of peer communication, critical discussion and participation. Schools use course management systems to allow instructors to present lectures, assignments and other supplemental learning materials to distance learners. Students can generally access these items any time that fits their schedule -- as long as they meet scheduled due dates. Discussion boards, chat rooms and Web conferencing are all possible methods of class interaction.
The course topics in an online psychology master's degree with a counseling specialization may include counseling theories, psychological assessments and research methods. Methods for implementing individual and group interventions may be covered. Programs often allow students to take electives that focus on an area of interest; online options may include:
- Career counseling
- Child and adolescent psychology
- Family systems
- Marriage/couples therapy
Those who obtain an online master's degree in counseling psychology often move forward in their education, pursuing a doctorate-level psychology or counseling degree; many also seek immediate employment in the field. Positions that graduates of this online degree are trained for include the following:
- Professional counselor
- Marriage and family therapist
- Clinical counselor
- Social service researcher
- Psychology instructor
To pursue an online master's degree in counseling psychology, students must have completed their bachelor's degree. Most master's degree graduates will choose to continue on to complete doctorate-level psychology or counseling.